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May 31st, 2013
04:19 PM ET

Baptists plan exodus from Boy Scouts

By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

(CNN) - For Southern Baptist pastor Tim Reed, it was Scripture versus the Scouts.

“God’s word explicitly says homosexuality is a choice, a sin,” said Reed, pastor of First Baptist Church of Gravel Ridge in Jacksonville, Arkansas.

So when the Boy Scouts of America voted to lift its ban on openly gay youths on May 24, Reed said the church had no choice but to cut its charter with Troop 542.

“It’s not a hate thing here,” Reed told CNN affiliate Fox 16. “It’s a moral stance we must take as a Southern Baptist church.”

Southern Baptist leaders say Reed is not alone.

Baptist churches sponsor nearly 4,000 Scout units representing more than 100,000 youths, according to the Boy Scouts of America.

That number could drop precipitously.

The Southern Baptist Convention, the country’s largest Protestant denomination, will soon urge its 45,000 congregations and 16 million members to cut ties with the Scouts, according to church leaders.

The denomination will vote on nonbinding but influential resolutions during a convention June 11-12 in Houston.

“There’s a 100% chance that there will be a resolution about disaffiliation at the convention,” said Richard Land, the outgoing head of the Southern Baptists’ Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, “and a 100% chance that 99% of people will vote for it.”

“Southern Baptists are going to be leaving the Boy Scouts en masse,” Land continued.

Roger “Sing” Oldham, a spokesman for the Southern Baptist Convention, emphasized that local congregations make their own decision on the Scouts.

But he, too, said he expects Baptist delegates, which the church calls “messengers,” to voice their disagreement with the BSA's decision to allow gay youths.

“With this policy change, the Boy Scouts’ values are contradictory to the basic values of our local churches,” Oldham said.

Several religious groups with strong Scouting ties support the new policy.

“We have heard from both those who support the amended policy and those who would have preferred it would not have changed,” said BSA spokesman Deron Smith.

Faith-based organizations charter more than 70% of Scout chapters, providing meeting space and leadership, according to the BSA.

“There have been some organizations that have decided not to renew their charters with Scouting," said Smith, "but we can’t quantify the impact of the amended policy."

The National Jewish Committee on Scouting, the United Church of Christ, the Episcopal Church, the Unitarian Universalist Association and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which sponsors more Scout units than any other faith, all endorsed the change.

The National Catholic Committee on Scouting, which is run with oversight from a bishop, said Thursday that allowing gay youths in the Scouts does not conflict with church teaching. Each bishop will decide whether or not to allow churches in his diocese to charter Scout units, the committee added.

“We ask that Catholic Scouters and chartered organization heads not rush to judgment,” said Edward Martin, chairman of the National Catholic Committee on Scouting.

But the Rev. Derek Lappe, pastor of the Our Lady Star of the Sea Catholic Church in Bremerton, Washington, has already made up his mind.

“I do not feel that it is possible for us to live out, and to teach, the authentic truth about human sexuality within the confines of the Boy Scout’s new policy,” said Lappe.

The priest told CNN affiliate FOX16 that his parish will part ways with the Scouts and develop its own programs.

There may soon be an alternative to the Scouts for social conservatives like Lappe.

John Stemberger, founder of On My Honor, a group that opposed the Scouts’ change in policy, plans to convene conservatives in Louisville, Kentucky, in June to consider forming a new Scout-like group, which could be up and running by the end of 2013.

“Churches and Scoutmasters are looking for leadership and direction,” said Stemberg, an attorney in Orlando, Florida.

A number of conservative religious denominations already sponsor their own groups.

For instance, the Southern Baptists have the Royal Ambassadors, an explicitly Christian program founded in 1908 for boys in first through sixth grade. (A similar group called Challengers equips older boys in “mission education.”)

The name comes from the New Testament, in which the Apostle Paul tells Christians to be “ambassadors for Christ.”

The estimated 31,000 Royal Ambassadors pledge “ to become a well-informed, responsible follower of Christ; to have a Christlike concern for all people; to learn how to carry the message of Christ around the world; to work with others in sharing Christ; and to keep myself clean and healthy in mind and body."

While not as outdoorsy as the Boy Scouts, Ambassadors do camp and play sports, said Land, who was a member of the group during the 1950s. But instead of merit badges for archery and bird study, young Ambassadors earn patches for memorizing Bible verses and mission work.

Southern Baptists said they are preparing for a surge of interest in the Royal Ambassadors at their upcoming convention in Houston.

“We really have an opportunity here to strengthen our RA programs,” the Rev. Ernest Easley, chairman of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee, said in a sermon last Sunday, “and to get the boys in a program where they’re going to be protected, where there’s a high moral standard and where they will have an opportunity to learn about camping, missions, evangelism in the local church.”

- CNN Religion Editor

Filed under: Baptist • Belief • Christianity • Church • Gay rights • gender issues • Politics • United States

soundoff (10,821 Responses)
  1. Charles

    I have to wonder why there is so much fuming and name-calling here. I see so many posts suggesting that anyone who disagrees is a "hater" and a "bigot." If we have an honest disagreement, shouldn't we use reason to resolve it? Why be so reactionary? Of course, I do understand that many some people post just to entertain themselves. But for the rest of us, please let's be civil.

    June 11, 2013 at 11:35 pm |
    • Charles

      Edit: *I do understand that some people post just to entertain themselves.* Sorry for the typo.

      June 11, 2013 at 11:39 pm |
    • oh yea

      What happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object? It seems that we have ourselves a dilemma that can only be solved thru incivility. You say Hater, I say Heretic. Bigot, Degenerate. Reactionary, counter-revolutionary. Yea team! (my team, not your's, you Low-Information Voters you)

      June 11, 2013 at 11:43 pm |
    • EnjaySea

      I totally agree, and have posted similar comments many, many times. But the insults just keep on flying.

      June 16, 2013 at 2:55 am |
  2. Patricksday

    Good let the Baptists go if they are so fragile they wont know how to deal with ONE gay scout if they even have that one.

    June 11, 2013 at 9:31 pm |
    • oh yea

      Scouting was created by Lord Baden-Powell, an English aristocrat, after ww1 because he observed that the city-dwelling youth lacked even the most basic fieldcraft. This is the essence of scouting, to be a scout for a military mission. These days you can sit at base camp and suck down gator-aid and eat slim-jims. Maybe scouting has just met its demise for lack of purpose in the current society. Otherwise it is just a glorified camping club with social activities.

      June 11, 2013 at 11:37 pm |
    • EnjaySea

      I'd say it's a bit more than just a camping club. I'd characterize the organization as more like an incubator for straight, conservative, Christians.

      June 16, 2013 at 2:59 am |
  3. gary

    I'm straight, but I'd rather be around gays than baptists.

    June 11, 2013 at 6:54 pm |
  4. EgoSumLamia

    If you churches accept gay's, then who will they blame for natural disasters.
    Typical Baptist reaction. Regardless of what they say it's a hate move.

    June 11, 2013 at 4:24 pm |
    • oh yea

      You are a Heretic.

      June 11, 2013 at 11:23 pm |
  5. light

    For Christians please read this:
    If you as a father or mother has to choose one of the below two choices, please tell me which one you will choose:
    1-all your kids are to die.
    Or
    2-You'll be beaten to death.
    Normally and logically all of you will choose the second one.
    Why that choice? Because dying for one time is better than dying every day.
    Those who lost their kids are dying every day to the rest of their life.
    Also Those who are sick with dangerous diseases are dying every day.
    Those who lost their wives or husbands or beloveds are dying every day.
    And too many others are suffering and dying every hour because of the pain of the soul not the body.
    Actually the suffering body is nothing comparing with the suffering soul.
    Actually That concept destroying your faith from the base……………how?
    We can ask for how many hours the Christ suffered? Two hours? three hours? ten hours?
    Actually If he was sick for many years, or if he lost his family or if he lost much of his beloveds and dears or if he passed all these things then we can say that he suffered for the human kind.
    But suffering by beaten for few hours for all the human kind for all the time a little child can not believe it.
    That is why you can find too much atheists in your sociaty because what they found in Christianity is against the logic and the brain.
    If the forgiveness is by beaten, then what a cheap price for forgiveness.

    June 11, 2013 at 4:23 pm |
    • 1-Shot Scott

      Light,

      In addition to the beatings, torture, and death on the cross, the Bible also specifically states that Christ descended into Hades. I would wager His spiritual punishment in Hades made his torture and execution seem pretty insignificant.

      June 11, 2013 at 4:50 pm |
    • light

      you can ask for forgivness directly without a link between you and your God.

      read in islam and forget about what they are saying in the media.

      June 16, 2013 at 6:44 am |
  6. huskiemom

    What's the difference between a Catholic and a Baptist?

    A Catholic will say "Hi" to you in the liquor store!

    June 11, 2013 at 4:06 pm |
    • oh yea

      okay heretic, I'll play your game... What is the difference between a Catholic priest and a Baptist preacher? I am willing to bet that 99% of the readers will not need a hint to figure that one out.

      June 11, 2013 at 11:21 pm |
  7. Texas Tess

    Does each Boy Scout troup really think that they will be overrun with gay children? This call for fairness will not impact most troups. I don't understand their fear and shunning of children under the "name of God". There are so many gay/bi folks right under their noses. What they are really calling for is a "Don't ask, don't tell" in Scouting. These kids aren't ruining the Scouts, bigotry, ignorance, and fear is what's ruining it.

    June 11, 2013 at 2:36 pm |
    • EnjaySea

      Homophobic people aren't really worried about gay scouts. What really infuriates them is that homosexuality is being sanctioned. They want everyone to hate with the same level of ugliness that they do, and anyone who shows compassion is just a thorn in their side.

      June 11, 2013 at 3:27 pm |
  8. wargod

    Atheist here.

    Noy scouts is a private organization. They shouldn't really have been pressured into doing anything. Its silly how reactionary the church is (as usual), but so what if they stop supporting? morality isn't a religious thing, and the kids that go will still be better for it than the kids that don't get that chance now. It should be up to the children whether gays in scouts bothers them, parents just shouldn't have a say.

    June 11, 2013 at 11:53 am |
    • time

      Their "pressure" was losing donations.

      The boy scouts will be gone in 5 years.

      Serves them right. All you red neck hillbillies can go mastur bate to your guns/bible.

      June 11, 2013 at 3:15 pm |
    • oh yea

      nothin better to round out my evenings. Thanks for the suggestion.

      June 11, 2013 at 11:07 pm |
  9. B Schmitt

    The boy scouts oath is to be "MORALLY STRAIGHT". BSA just went against their scout oath. I'm a scout parent and just sad that the LGBT have just destroyed this 100 yr old organization here in the south (bible belt).

    June 11, 2013 at 10:03 am |
    • sam stone

      what has orientation got to with morality?

      June 11, 2013 at 10:21 am |
    • sam stone

      Perhaps it is the bigots who have destroyed the organization

      June 11, 2013 at 10:22 am |
    • EnjaySea

      Being gay isn't immoral. Kicking boys out of the scouts because they are gay, or because they don't believe in a god, is immoral.

      June 11, 2013 at 11:30 am |
    • sam stone

      Come on, B Schmitt....answer the question...what does orientation (which is innate) have to do with morality?

      Does it make the bigots feel yucky?

      While we are at it, what are the moral implications of left handedness, or hair color, or eye color?

      As a straight man, I know there is nothing that would make me choose to be gay. Do you feel that you could choose it? If not, why do you feel others could?

      Come on, B Schmitt, do you have the guts to answer, or are you yet another post and run bigot?

      June 11, 2013 at 11:36 am |
    • Richard Cranium

      What is the definition of "Morally straight"?...ask 100 people , get 100 answers. It is too ambiguous. It isfor instance immoral for you to claim that being gay is immoral. That is the same as saying that being straight is immoral. Peoples $exual orientation is not a question of morality because there is no choice.
      Am I immoral because I have green eyes? Same difference.

      It's Like George Bush's "traditional family values". Who's family? which traditions? Which "values"...Way too ambiguous.

      June 11, 2013 at 11:38 am |
    • time

      I would say you and your "kind" are 100% responsible for any of this.

      Everything comes around and it appears to be biting you square on the ar se.

      Unfortunately it sounds like you had children. Great, you get to pass on your ignorance to children who don't know any better .... YET

      June 11, 2013 at 3:44 pm |
    • time

      Top Ten Signs You're a Christian in Name Only
      10 – You vigorously deny the existence of thousands of gods claimed by other religions, but feel outraged when someone denies the existence of yours.
      9 – You feel insulted and "dehumanized" when scientists say that people evolved from other life forms, but you have no problem with the Biblical claim that we were created from dirt.
      8 – You laugh at polytheists, but you have no problem believing in a Triune God.
      7 – Your face turns purple when you hear of the "atrocities" attributed to Al lah, but you don't even flinch when hearing about how God/Jehovah slaughtered all the babies of Egypt in "Exodus" and ordered the elimination of entire ethnic groups in "Joshua" including women, children, and trees!
      6 – You laugh at Hindu beliefs that deify humans, and Greek claims about gods sleeping with women, but you have no problem believing that the Holy Spirit impregnated Mary, who then gave birth to a man-god who got killed, came back to life and then ascended into the sky.
      5 – You are willing to spend your life looking for little loopholes in the scientifically established age of Earth (few billion years), but you find nothing wrong with believing dates recorded by Bronze Age tribesmen sitting in their tents and guessing that Earth is a few generations old.
      4 – You believe that the entire population of this planet with the exception of those who share your beliefs – though excluding those in all rival sects – will spend Eternity in an infinite Hell of Suffering. And yet consider your religion the most "tolerant" and "loving."
      3 – While modern science, history, geology, biology, and physics have failed to convince you otherwise, some id iot rolling around on the floor speaking in "tongues" may be all the evidence you need to "prove" Christian
      2 – You define 0.01% as a "high success rate" when it comes to answered prayers. You consider that to be evidence that prayer works. And you think that the remaining 99.99% FAILURE was simply the will of God.
      1 – You actually know a lot less than many atheists and agnostics do about the Bible, catholicism and church history – but still call yourself a Christian

      June 11, 2013 at 3:44 pm |
    • oh yea

      Blah blah blah... Tell it to the Nun who cracked the ruler over your knuckles. Maybe then you will get some closure.

      June 11, 2013 at 11:14 pm |
  10. get to know your religion

    take a good look from a rational perspective:

    http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Evidence_for_the_historical_existence_of_Jesus_Christ

    http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Why_Won%27t_God_Heal_Amputees

    http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Failed_biblical_prophecies

    June 10, 2013 at 9:27 pm |
    • Science

      Het get to know your religion................how about yourself ?

      Martian Clay Contains Chemical Implicated in the Origin of Life,

      http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130610220132.htm

      Meteorites and water. made us aye.

      June 11, 2013 at 7:46 am |
  11. faith

    the new testament is evidence. it proclaims jesus christ came to earth, lived among us, died, was resurrected from the grave and ascended to heaven where he presides over all at the right hand of god, his and our father.

    "evidence that demands a verdict" is a book written by Josh McDowell. in it, he describes in detail how the bible was written down to the instruments that were used to write with and on. the care taken is incredible. a great resource.

    guaranteed to offend nazis

    June 10, 2013 at 9:05 pm |
    • EnjaySea

      I don't believe that the men who wrote the New Testament were telling the truth, because they reported events which cannot happen, yet reported them as though they did.

      Whereas it may convince you that christ came to earth. It only convinces me that the authors were liars.

      June 10, 2013 at 11:13 pm |
    • Ya they can

      I have data as evidence , ordinary proof that God is sovereign, and supernatural.

      June 10, 2013 at 11:21 pm |
    • Observer

      Ya they can

      "I have data as evidence , ordinary proof that God is sovereign, and supernatural."

      If you have proof, you'd share it. Nobody has produced any proof yet.

      June 10, 2013 at 11:26 pm |
    • ztom

      And there is also proof that Jesus came to America, and that the Christian God is just one of many gods from the planet Kolob.

      June 11, 2013 at 2:13 pm |
  12. EnjaySea

    We're telling you that there is a god, and even though there's no evidence to back up our claim, if you don't believe what we say, you can't be a Boy Scout.

    Allowing gays was a step into the 21st century. Now how about taking the next step?

    June 10, 2013 at 6:13 pm |
    • Ya they can

      What's that.........crediting a person beyond being just a person...lets identify them as ho.moseKxuals and complete the full fledge s.exual idolatry.

      How obvious can it get that sin is running its course unto death? Devil worship.

      June 10, 2013 at 11:26 pm |
    • EnjaySea

      I'm sorry Ya they can. I don't mean to be rude, but you really, actually do sound mentally ill. I won't argue with you, because I don't want to get you in deeper water than you already are.

      Take care of yourself.

      June 11, 2013 at 12:32 am |
  13. lazarus00000

    good riddance to bad rubbish

    June 10, 2013 at 12:22 pm |
  14. Anna

    Legs of Hollywood.
    http://bit.ly/19gK9mZ

    June 10, 2013 at 9:46 am |
  15. Anna

    Is It Wrong to Make Babies Cry For Art?
    http://bit.ly/19gwagX

    June 10, 2013 at 8:40 am |
  16. faith

    lol

    June 9, 2013 at 12:48 pm |
    • Topher

      This is the most sense faith has made in her posts.

      June 9, 2013 at 12:51 pm |
    • Science

      Science wins over creationism in South Korea

      Government asks publishers to retain examples of evolution in science textbooks.

      http://www.nature.com/news/science-wins-over-creationism-in-south-korea-1.11377

      June 9, 2013 at 6:49 pm |
    • Science

      Hey topher..............remember be what ?

      9-18 of 27,000,000 results Any time

      My take: A word to Christians – Be nice – CNN Belief Blog ...

      religion.blogs.cnn.com/2013/02/09/my-take-a-word-to-christians-be-nice

      Feb 09, 2013 · ... who have been made in God's likeness. ... are all over it. ... Evolution WINS hands down...time for the horn-y red devil to get the hell out of the way......

      http://www.bing.com/search?q=The+e+word+wins+all+the+time+creationists+..........no+god(s)+made+US............get+over+IT&pc=HPNTDF&src=IE-SearchBox&first=9&FORM=PERE

      June 10, 2013 at 8:15 am |
  17. Bart Breen

    I was licensed to preach in 1985 from a Southern Baptist Church.

    I have 3 of my 4 sons who have been active in the Boy Scouts. One is an Eagle Scout and another is just entering now in his first year. As far as I'm concerned all boys should be welcomed and included. I intend to continue supporting them and am glad my sons are a part. I think the decision to exclude gay scouts should have been reversed a long time ago but I'm glad they have acted later than not at all.

    Any Church that would reject, exclude or expel a Scout Troop for the reason of accepting all boys into the troop, are a sad excuse for a church in my opinion, and I'd choose not to have anything to do with them as hypocrites who do not understand the love of Christ and the outreach of Christ to all those whom the religious community (eg The Pharisees) rejected. Scout Troops already accept all religious groups, ethnic groups etc. If a church wants to reject the Boy Scouts for a symbolic political reason instead of embracing the opportunity to have others come to their building and know the love of hospitality of Christ to the community, then all I can say is thank you for showing your true colors and let me be among the first to allow any respect I had for your church to leave with the Scouts.

    It will be a largely symbolic action, but should the SBC act in this manner, I will write the church that licensed me and let them know that I no longer wish to be endorsed or affiliated with an SBC church if the denomination as a whole makes this move.

    June 8, 2013 at 10:29 am |
  18. JayCee

    Being ousted from these churches is good for scouts. There are SO many other churches and other civic organizations in GA and AL that would be glad to host them – without discrimination based on the barbaric civil laws of bronze-age goat herders.

    June 7, 2013 at 3:36 pm |
    • Life Preserver

      Lot of "hate speech" against Baptist on here. Oops, I'm mistaken! It is only hate speech when someone actually PRACTICES what they believe CONFLICTS with anyone else's beliefs.

      June 7, 2013 at 4:21 pm |
  19. Sam Yaza

    good ether this or the boyscout stop taking government money

    June 7, 2013 at 1:23 pm |
  20. topcat

    this is good. let the religious close them selves off from the rest of the community.
    no room for the intolerant in society anyways.

    June 7, 2013 at 12:49 pm |
    • JohnQuest

      topcat, do you not see the irony in your statement?

      June 7, 2013 at 5:09 pm |
    • oh yea

      Better for them. Maybe then they have a chance to not end up brain-dead like you.

      June 11, 2013 at 11:28 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.